Legislative leaders call for third special session to study the Permanent Fund, PFD

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Leaders of the Alaska Legislature sent a letter to the governor urging him to call a third special session to study the Permanent Fund and the dividend.

“Among our discussions in the legislature is the future use of the earnings of the Alaska Permanent Fund and the need to consider policy issues relevant to the long-term sustainability of the Fund and the PFD,” read the letter from Senate President Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, and House Speaker Bryce Edgmon, I-Dillingham, sent on July 31.

The letter states that the “complexity involved” in trying to find a solution to debates around the Permanent Fund and the dividend are difficult if “not virtually impractical” to solve during the regular legislative session.

The idea of the session is to examine the 1982 statutory formula and the percentage of earnings that go to the dividend and the percentage that goes to government.

Giessel said by phone that the decision to ask the governor to call a special session on the Permanent Fund was to work collaboratively with the administration.

If Edgmon and Giessel’s request from the governor was accepted, the session would take place before the end of the year.

The letter states that the bicameral Permanent Fund Working Group would be working in coming months in preparation for the session. Giessel said that the group would have a lot of latitude to do its work and that it could call on subject matter experts to advise it.

Matt Shuckerow, the governor’s press secretary, said there had been no determination from the governor’s office whether he would call an additional special session.

On Monday, the Legislature passed a bill that would deliver a roughly $1,600 PFD, breaking the statutory formula that has traditionally set the dividend amount. However, the $1,600 figure would not break the rules-based system on how to spend Permanent Fund earnings set up under Senate Bill 26 in 2018.

Shuckerow said the governor wanted to see lawmakers change the law before they broke it.

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